Natchez Trace (Location Key)


The first Compson to arrive in Yoknapatawpha, according to Faulkner's "Appendix" to The Sound and the Fury, travels there from Kentucky along the "Natchez Trace" (328). Originally created by Indians, the Trace was a 440-mile trail through the wilderness between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi. It linked three rivers - the Cumberland, the Tennessee and the Mississippi. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, it served as a major overland route for traders and settlers. Historically, it passed through northern Mississippi to the east of Oxford, the town on which Jefferson is based. As described in both "A Name for the City" and Requiem for a Nun, in the early history of Jefferson the Trace links the settlement to civilization back east. The three hundred miles of wilderness through which the Trace runs is a lawless place; though the "special horseman" who carries the mail between the settlement and Nashville rides up and down it "every two weeks" with a kind of impunity (201, 8), the "rapine-haunted Trace" is a "region where for no more than the boots on his feet, men would murder a traveler" (202, 9). In time, however, the "trackless infested forest" through which the Trace passes becomes the route of "the pioneer" who "drags his gravid wife and most of the rest of his mother-in-law's family behind him" on the march of civilization westward (81).

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